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Reality Series Follows Kapa Haka Champs to Te Matatini 2013

Tuesday February 5, 2013

Reality Series Follows Kapa Haka Champs to Te Matatini 2013

Maori Television is giving viewers a rare glimpse into the competitive world of kapa haka in a special reality series starting March 1 at 9.30pm.

KAPA HAKA: BEHIND THE FACES follows key figures in Rotorua’s Te Matarae I Orehu, the current national kapa haka champions, as they prepare to defend their title at the 2013 Te Matatini Festival in Rotorua from February 21 - 24.

Producer Lara Northcroft, from Velvet Stone Media in Rotorua, says the five-part series captures all the blood, sweat and tears that go into preparing for the traditional Maori performing arts competition.

“These are people who give up their weekends, who practice the poi during their coffee break at work and learn the words to the haka sitting in their car at the lights.

“Through them, we gain some insight into an obsessive passion that consumes them for months on end, for 30 minutes on stage,” says Northcroft, who is married to Te Matarae I Orehu male lead Wetini Mitai-Ngatai and knows firsthand the sacrifices people make to be in the team.

KAPA HAKA: BEHIND THE FACES features many members of the talented Morrison family, including reigning female champion Miriama Morrison-Hare, who stepped into the group’s female lead role following the death of her mother, Taini.

As she deals with those pressures, her team mates try to juggle work and family with practice, while others make the trip down from Auckland every week to perfect their skills.

Te Matarae I Orehu is one of 41 groups representing 13 regions, including Australia, who will take the stage at Te Matatini 2013, which will take place at Rotorua International Stadium from February 21 – 24.

Maori Television is the lead television broadcaster for the four-day event, with a daily highlights package to screen from 8.00pm on February 21, 22 and 23, as well as live coverage of the last day of competition from 8.30am until 5.30pm.

Award-winning presenter Matai Smith will host the coverage, with support from Te Arahi Maipi, Annabelle Lee-Harris and Te Uira Paki.

KAPA HAKA: BEHIND THE FACES starts at 9.30pm on Friday, March 1, covering Te Matarae I Orehu’s build-up to Te Matatini 2013 through to their performance at the competition. Can they hold on to their title? Tune in to Maori Television’s Te Matatini coverage from February 21 – 24 to find out.



Wetini Mitai-Ngatai
Wetini Mitai-Ngatai is a traditional Maori weaponry master, kapa haka expert and founder of Rotorua’s Mitai Maori Village. Choreographer and leader of TMIO, Wetini collaborated with the New Zealand Royal Ballet in “Ihi Frenzy”, the sell-out tour that merged the worlds of modern dance and traditional Maori performing arts.
He also choreographed a section that features the kapa haka group for the RWC 2011 Opening Ceremony.

Talei Morrison
Talei, the ‘mother’ of the group, has been a member of Te Matarae since her late aunt Taini became leader more than 10 years ago. Her children are hoping to perform at the Nationals for the first time with TMIO and her two younger brothers, Mataia and Eruera will perform alongside her.

Sonia Lewis
Sonia is one of the longest standing members of Te Matarae and always there to “awhi and support’” any new members to the group. Sonia juggles raising her three daughters and studying nursing fulltime with her kapa haka commitments.

Mataia Keepa (Morrison)
Mataia has grown up with TMIO where his sister Talei and aunt Taini spent most of their weekends. After studying under the mantle of Timoti Karetu, Wharehuia Milroy and Pou Temara, Mataia is ready to step up to the plate and take on a more senior role within the group. Mataia now works as a development producer for Bailey Mackey at Black Ink Media.

Wiremu “Weach” Mako
Weach moved to Rotorua in 2003 to study for a diploma in Maori performing arts. Having been brought up with a musical background in the Ratana Brass Bands, music became one of his great talents. He has been involved with TMIO for the past seven years and first performed with them at the Te Arawa regionals in 2010.

Byron Thompson
Byron has performed with TMIO since he was 14 and is now one of the senior male members of the group. He remembers being taught to do the wero by Wetini Mitai-Ngatai when he was seven. His connection to the style of haka for which TMIO is famous grew from that moment at Malfroy Primary School where he now teaches kapa haka.

Miriama Morrison-Hare
Miriama is the reigning champ for female leader at Te Matatini. Stepping into the kaitataki role after her mother, the late Taini Morrison, has brought new pressures for Miri. The support of her whanau is something that she appreciates and embraces giving her that unique wairua that is so obvious in her performance.

Te Kemara Kennedy
Kemara is one of the male leaders of TMIO and helps the younger members of the group with his skills in weaponry. His passion for te reo and tikanga Maori is a big part of his life.

Taumata Solomon
Taumata started with TMIO when he was at High School. A role model for youth in Rotorua, his work as a kaiako at Western Heights High School enables him to work with youth who require a different style of communication and education.

Rosie Belvie
Rosie knew that performing was going to be her life and career at an early age. She was a champion female leader in her high school kapa haka team. Rosie often travels the world with her job as a performer in an Auckland-based Polynesian Theatre Company.

Kereama Wright
Kereama is a long-standing member of TMIO and one of the main experts when it comes to singing. Kereama recently moved back to Rotorua with his new job as the Waiariki reporter for Television New Zealand’s Te Karere.

Renee Gordon
Renee (17) is one of the new members of the TMIO whanau after Miri invited her to come along after the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Competitions.

Jordan Whata
Jordan (15) joined TMIO with her schoolmate Renee. One of the things she struggled with was the fact that her friends outside of kapa haka don’t understand why she gives up her every spare moment for TMIO.

© Scoop Media

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